2019 Seattle Mariners Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
The Seattle Mariners and Miami Marlins are as far apart distance-wise as any two teams in Major League Baseball, but they are really in the same boat for the 2019 season. Seattle has the No. 1 playoff drought in baseball, last reaching with that historic 2001 team but losing in the ALCS. Miami won the 2003 World Series and hasn't been back to the playoffs for the second-longest drought.
Zero chance either makes the 2019 postseason as both are in full tank/rebuild mode - the Marlins simply got a year head start. Interesting that the Mariners tore everything down this offseason considering they still draw pretty well and won 89 games last year. Alas, that was eight games out of the second wild-card spot. Apparently, ownership had enough of borderline contention and choose the route of the Astros and Cubs, etc.: Save some money for the next few years and built the farm system into one of the best in baseball.
The worst season in franchise history was the 1978 campaign (year after expansion season) when Seattle was 56-104. This team won't be that bad, but be assured just about everyone is available via trade this year.
Seattle opens the regular season as the road team against Oakland in Tokyo on March 20. The U.S. opener is home against Boston on March 28.
Mariners Projected Lineup
Slugging DH Nelson Cruz took his team-best 37 homers and 97 RBIs to free agency and signed with the Twins. Really can't fault the Mariners for letting the one-dimensional Cruz go at his advanced age. Also have no problem with the Mariners sending past-his-prime second baseman Robinson Cano to the Mets in the Edwin Diaz deal. Cano was essentially the tax for the Mets to get Diaz. Cano is still a pretty good hitter but has five years at $24 million per left on his deal and was suspended 80 games as a drug cheat last year. The M's also got Jay Bruce, but he'll likely be backup outfielder - or traded.
Seattle traded shortstop Jean Segura to Philadelphia along with two relievers for slugging first baseman Carlos Santana and young shortstop J.P. Crawford - Crawford was once a highly-touted guy but just isn't hitting in the majors. Not sure I get that trade considering Segura is coming off back-to-back .300 seasons and on a pretty good contract through at least 2022. Santana was then flipped to Cleveland for Edwin Encarnacion.
Outfielder Ben Gamel was traded to Milwaukee for outfielder Domingo Santana. That has the potential to be a good trade for the M's. Santana is two years removed from hitting 30 home runs and having 85 RBIs but regressed last year. Maybe he is the 2017 version. Gamel appeared in 101 games last season for the Mariners and hit .272, but started just 69 games.
So here's the projected lineup, but there's no doubt management would like to move the highly-paid Encarnacion. Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon also could be had. Mitch Haniger might be the only untouchable, but even he likely goes with a big offer: OF Mallex Smith, OF Haniger, DH Encarnacion, 3B Seager, OF Santana, 1B Ryon Healy, C Omar Narvaez (acquired from White Sox), SS Tim Beckham, 2B Gordon.
Mariners 2019 Projected Rotation & Closer
Ace James Paxton, he of a no-hitter last year against the Blue Jays, was traded to the Yankees for three kids, led by top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. Paxton started 28 games in 2018, posting an 11-6 record and a 3.76 ERA (67 earned runs, 160.1 innings) with 208 strikeouts and 42 walks. Great pitcher but has some injury concerns and had two stints on the disabled list for back spasms and a left-forearm contusion in 2018. Sheffield could be a stud but may not open the season with the big club.
For a team that's tanking, it was odd the Mariners signed the top Japanese import this offseason, lefty Yusei Kikuchi, for a reported $56 million that could reach $107 million. Then again, the M's love those Japanese guys. Kikuchi, 27, posted a 69-45 mark with a 2.69 ERA (286 earned runs, 956 1/3 innings pitched) over seven seasons with the Lions in Japan's Pacific League. I have no idea if this guy is any good. Always a crapshoot with Japanese stars, especially pitchers.
The rest of the rotation looks to be new ace Marco Gonzales, trade candidate Mike Leake and way-past-his prime franchise icon Felix Hernandez. King Felix was so bad in 2018 that he was briefly demoted to the bullpen before returning to the rotation simply out of necessity. It's his last season under contract.
Diaz was the majors' best closer last year with 57 saves, a 1.96 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in just 73.1 innings. He's why the M's rarely lost when leading after seven innings. Hunter Strickland, signed as a free agent from the Giants, likely will get the first crack at closing.
Mariners Futures Odds
At 5Dimes , Seattle has an "over/under" win total of 71.5, with the over a -125 favorite. The Mariners are +5000 to win the AL West, +12500 for the pennant and +50000 for the World Series. Encarnacion is +6000 to lead the majors in homers.
Mariners 2019 Predictions
GM Jerry Dipoto said the team's plan was to take a "step back" in 2019 with the roster with a focus for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. It's likely that Seattle takes the biggest drop in wins of any AL team from last year. Still say this is better than a 71.5-win team. The lineup and rotation have potential - just hard to know who might be around after the July 31 trade deadline. FanGraphs projects 75 wins and that sounds about right.
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